Responsible 3-Week Road Trip in Eastern Québec

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Québec Le Mag'
Published on March 14, 2022
Whale tails sticking out of the water
Jocelyn Praud, Le Québec maritime

Discover some forty experiences on a 10-stage, 3-week Québec road trip. It’s an odyssey in the great outdoors, with the history of the province and its vibrant culture along for the ride. On the way, you’ll discover a selection of responsible businesses.

This road trip is presented in partnership with Sépaq, Québec’s largest outdoor adventure network.

Trip Itinerary


  • Landscapes, spectacular natural sites and outdoor activities on both shores of the St. Lawrence
  • A journey through history to discover a UNESCO heritage treasure
  • Discovery of Eastern Québec's First Nations
  • Glorious Québec City
  • Glorious Québec City


    The Old City

    Old Québec is a UNESCO World Heritage Site where old-world charm and history come together like nowhere else in North America. The former capital of New France stands today as the only remaining walled city north of Mexico. Its 400-year history, heritage, and blend of French, British, North American, and Indigenous influences add up to a real-life open-air museum perfect for exploring by foot—ideally on a guided tour. 

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    First Nations Museum Hotel

    Québec City takes its name from an Algonquian word that means “the place where the river narrows.” Just outside the city centre in Wendake, there is a hotel where Indigenous traditions are celebrated in modern comfort. Guests at this magnificent First Nations Museum Hotel have the option of spending a night in a traditional longhouse. The site is also home to the Huron-Wendat Museum and La Traite, a gourmet restaurant featuring Indigenous-inspired cuisine. It’s the perfect base camp for exploring Wendake’s many attractions, including the St. Charles River and Kabir Kouba Falls.

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    Île d'Orléans

    You’ll love this island’s rural charm and will marvel at how close it is to the city. The gorgeous heritage homes all have stories to tell as Île d’Orléans was among the first settlements in New France. Don’t miss out on the fabulous farms and products, such as the blackcurrant of Cassis Monna & Filles, and the wines, ciders and spirits at Vignoble St. Pétronille. Orchards, sugar shacks, microbrewery, and cheese dairies round out your foodie tour. Hot tip: sea kayaking to Île d’Orléans with guides from Quatre Natures is a great way to see a different side of the island.

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    Montmorency Falls Park

    This powerful waterfall is higher than Niagara and just 15 minutes from the Old City! For spectacular sights, Montmorency Falls Park is a must-see with its 83-metre (276-feet) falls. After all that excitement, the road to Côte-de-Beaupré is a soothing country drive along the historic New France route. Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré Basilica, Sainte-Anne Canyon, and Cap Tourmente National Wildlife Area are also highly recommended.

    Boarding the very first hydrogen passenger train in America is another option to consider from Parc de la Chute-Montmorency. Train de Charlevoix runs along the magnificent St. Lawrence River to get to Baie-Saint-Paul and allows you to see landscapes you can only see by rail. 

  • ecoEco-Friendly Favourites

    Where to stay: Hôtel du Vieux-Québec, Auberge Triangle d'été (Île d'Orléans), Littoral Hôtel & Spa

    Where to eat: Restaurant Alentours, Le Clan, Groupe La Tanière (Orygine, Légende, Tanière3)

  • Baie-Saint-Paul, a Perfect Base Camp for Tackling Charlevoix
  • Baie-Saint-Paul, a Perfect Base Camp for Tackling Charlevoix


    Grands-Jardins National Park

    Subarctic wilderness less than 2 hours from Québec City? Grands-Jardins National Park is home to an array of natural environments, from boreal forest to subarctic taiga. There’s plenty to do here too, including canoeing, kayaking, voyageur canoe, via ferrata, and 30 km (almost 19 miles) of hiking trails with great lookouts and views of the Charlevoix Impact Crater. There are also a number of unique outdoor accommodation options, including EXP cabins, huts, campgrounds, and prospector tents. Be sure to do the hike up Lac des Cygnes Mountain.

  • Suggestion from the Vaolo Community: Via Ferrata at the Grands-Jardins

    With a professional guide, you will safely contemplate the magnificent valley at an altitude of 800 meters during this via ferrata.

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    The Flavour Trail

    Charlevoix is like a candy store for epicures. That’s what you get when you put a rich and varied terroir in the hands of creative, hard-working artisans. The Flavour Trail will tantalize your taste buds as you load up on gourmet delights. Favourite stops include the Baie-St-Pomme orchard and cider mill, the Charlevoix emu centre, the Famille Migneron cheese factory and the Isle-aux-Coudres mills. Special mention goes to Omerto in Baie-Saint-Paul for pioneering wine made from tomatoes!

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    The locals on this charming island are renowned for their hospitality and affectionately known as “marsouins” (porpoises in French). You’ll learn as much by taking the free ferry over for, say, a bicycle tour of the island (23 km or 14 miles) with a suggested bike rental at Vélo-Coudres, a visit to the Isle-aux-Coudres mills, a stop at the ice canoe heritage space Les Traverseux, and a stay at Havre musical de l’Islet, a beach hotel known for its concert series. The view of the St. Lawrence River simply can’t be beat. 

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    Domaine Forget de Charlevoix

    Culture lovers (or anyone with a pulse, really) will find Domaine Forget worth the trip for the beauty of the spot alone—high up in Saint-Irénée overlooking the St. Lawrence River. What’s it all about? Music, dance, sculpture, and the great outdoors. There’s a music and dance academy, an amazing concert hall, and the world-renowned Domaine Forget International Festival. Take a stroll through the Harmonic Sculpture Garden with its original works by local and international artists.

  • The Vast Saguenay Fjord
  • The Vast Saguenay Fjord


    Kayaking the Fjord (L’Anse-Saint-Jean)

    How would you like to explore an immense fjord in a kayak? Fjord en Kayak offers 2-hour guided paddles for families, 3-hour to all-day trips for adults, and multi-day expeditions. It’s an accredited member of Québec Adventure Outdoor, a network for ecotourism businesses. Destination Canada calls it a Canadian Signature Experience. It’s a highlight of the Fjord Route, as is a visit to L’Anse-Saint-Jean, one of Québec’s most beautiful villages.

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    Fjord-du-Saguenay National Park

    The Saguenay Fjord is a colossus carved out by Mother Nature, one of the most spectacular on the planet. Fjord-du-Saguenay National Park is the gateway for exploring this giant, by land and sea—hiking to incredible viewpoints like the Anse-à-Tabatière lookout, clambering along a via ferrata, paddling a sea kayak across the waters of Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park alongside seals and whales, including belugas. The park has a range of green accommodations for an extended stay in this unspoiled wilderness.

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    The Fjord Museum

    Another star attraction on the Fjord Route. This bayside museum unravels the mysteries of the Saguenay Fjord, especially the marine habitat that makes it a world all its own. Gaze out at the teeming biodiversity of its waters through the glass of the immense saltwater aquarium or the portholes of the multimedia vessel. The museum also has excursions and outdoor adventures for exploring the shores at low tide and learning more about the bay’s fascinating history.

  • Suggestion from the Vaolo Community: Meet a Log Craftsman

    On the enchanting natural site of Bois Rond Expérience in the Saguenay region, come touch, see and hear the history of traditional log construction

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    Okwari le Fjord (Contact Nature)

    Okwari le Fjord is another sustainable way to explore the magnificent Saguenay Fjord. Contact Nature is a company rooted in sustainability, providing a range of option for exploring the fjord and surrounding boreal forest. There’s sea kayaking, canoe camping, voyageur canoeing, and excursions to see black bears in their natural habitat, always with the utmost respect for this extraordinary environment.

  • Saguenay, More on the Fjord
  • Saguenay, More on the Fjord


    Fjord Marine Shuttles

    This is another great way to experience the Saguenay Fjord, whether to see the most spectacular sites, explore the villages and heritage, or just get where you want to go. Fjord Marine Shuttles gives you regular scheduled connections and a range of excursion and tour packages departing from La Baie and Sainte-Rose-du-Nord. Note that they are part of the Éco-Baleine Alliance that is supporting environmentally friendly practices in the marine park. Cyclists and their bikes are welcome. All aboard!

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    Cap Jaseux Adventure Park

    Cap Jaseux Adventure Park has a fantastic selection of ecotourism and recreational adventures on their site by the Saguenay Fjord. The treetop rope courses are a favourite for all ages and levels, but there are also ziplines, hikes, via ferrata, beaches, yoga, massages, sea kayaking, fishing, mushroom picking, and more. The unique accommodations are a definite plus, including the suspended spheres and stargazer domes.

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    Monts-Valin National Park

    Continue up the Fjord Route to Monts-Valin National Park. Topping out at 984 metres (3,200 ft), the peaks of Monts-Valin offer breathtaking views of the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean from above. If you’re looking for adventure, there are lakes and rivers for paddlers (kayak, canoe, and SUP), as well as 25 km (15.5 miles) of trails with sweeping views where you may even stumble on the occasional moose. With its trailside accommodations, including EXP cabins, this park is a great choice for extended hikes. 

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    Sainte-Rose du Nord

    Be sure to check out Sainte-Rose-du-Nord—another of Québec’s loveliest villages—on your way down the Fjord Route. From the village, take the trail up to La Plateforme for another jaw-dropping view of the fjord. Kick back at a café on the Sainte-Rose-du-Nord quay, and stop by the Rose-des-Vents hostel for the pub, the live shows, the sea kayaking, and the outdoor activities. Back on the road to Tadoussac, the Halte du Béluga lookout is your chance to spot beluga whales.

  • Tadoussac: A Star Attraction
  • Tadoussac: A Star Attraction


    AML Cruises

    There’s more than one way to go whale watching in Tadoussac, and AML Cruises proves it. Whatever floats your boat—from light, manoeuvrable Zodiacs communing with the salt spray to bigger comfortable observation whale-watching vessels—you’ll find it in the AML fleet. AML cruises are proud members of Éco-Baleine Alliance, Green Marine, Tourisme durable Québec and Aventure écotourisme Québec. The giants of Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park will provide the magic.

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    Marine Mammal Interpretive Centre

    When in Tadoussac, be sure to stop by the Marine Mammal Interpretive Centre, before or after your whale-watching expedition. It’s a natural science museum with an extensive collection of Canadian whale skeletons. It’s also a whale-watching site and learning centre. Naturalists from the marine mammal research and education group lead fun activities for the general public, including an off-the-wall whale song lesson.

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    Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park

    Welcome to one of the world’s best whale-watching spots! Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park is an immense protected marine area covering the fjord and the St. Lawrence Estuary. It’s a giant lunch counter for whales, seals, and birds: all designed for epic expeditions that are respectful of nature. It has two more sites to round out and illuminate the experience—the Marine Environment Discovery Centre and Cap-de-Bon-Désir Interpretation and Observation Centre, where you can often see whales right from the shore.

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    Mer et monde Écotours

    The Innu community of Essipit is known for its whale-watching cruises and great selection of places to stay and things to do. It also operates Mer et monde Écotours, a sustainable business specializing in guided sea-kayaking and standup paddleboard (SUP) tours on the St. Lawrence Estuary. You’ll flip over their rugged seaside campsites. Sustainable travel at its best!

  • ecoEco-Friendly Favourites

    Where to stay: Hôtel Tadoussac, Condos Natakam, Canopée Lit

    Where to eat: Hôtel Tadoussac, La Galouine, Chez Mathilde

  • Baie-Comeau and its Natural Treasures
  • Baie-Comeau and its Natural Treasures


    Parc Nature de Pointe-aux-Outardes

    The first aim of Parc Nature de Pointe-aux-Outarde is to protect the amazing biodiversity of a site with 9 separate ecosystems, including a vast tidal salt marsh. Hit the trails to explore the land, plants, and wildlife that make this place a magnet for Québec birders. There are innovative programs for all ages and interests, from looking up at the night sky to looking down at the park ecosystems around your feet. Top marks for the very cool cabins designed to look like nesting boxes for giant birds.

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    Attitude Nordique

    Attitude Nordique’s guides and group leaders are champions of the Great Green North. Whether you want to go sea kayaking, SUPing, freediving, try a zipline or via ferrata, they deliver active outdoor experiences that are responsible, sustainable and safe. They also share their love of the Côte-Nord with evening tastings of local specialties and terroir products. A great place in Baie-Comeau to whet your appetite for adventure.

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    Route 389: Larger Than Life

    Past Baie-Comeau, Route 389 steers you up the map to explore the immense Côte-Nord back country, including the Groulx Mountains and Manicouagan Reservoir, a crater so huge you can see it from space. There you’ll find Uapishka Station, the ideal base camp for adventures in the boreal wilderness. Other larger-than-life experiences line up along the way—the Manic-2 and Manic-5 hydroelectric dams (Manic-5 being the world’s largest multiple-arch-and-buttress dam) are well worth a guided tour.

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    Ferry from Baie-Comeau or Godbout to Matane

    Time to plot a course to the South Shore of the St. Lawrence River, sailing out of either Baie-Comeau or Godbout. In Québec’s maritime regions, ferries are a natural extension of the roads—a way for people and their vehicles to traverse the vast St. Lawrence Estuary. But the Matane ferry is more than just a way to Gaspésie, it’s a fascinating cruise on board MV F. A. Gauthier, a seagoing behemoth that can carry 800 passengers and 180 vehicles. The onboard services and views of the estuary make the crossing a highlight of this trip.

  • ecoEco-Friendly Favourites

    Where to stay: Hôtel Le Manoir, Nichoirs (Pointe-aux-Outardes Nature Park), Station Uapishka

    Where to eat: Hôtel Le Manoir, St-Pancrace Microbrewery, Manoir du Café

  • Matane: Nature Unfurled
  • Matane: Nature Unfurled


    Destination Haute-Mer

    Answer the call of the sea with Destination Haute-Mer for a fishing trip you’ll never forget. The captains and fishing guides are friendly and professional. They know all the tricks for reeling in the mackerel, cod, and striped bass that lurk beneath the surface of the St. Lawrence River. Bonus: you may even sight a whale from the boat. A safe and fun adventure on the high seas.

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    International Appalachian Trail (IAT)

    A hiker’s dream come true! The International Appalachian Trail (IAT) gives you 650 km (that’s more than 400 miles) of trails through the Gaspésie Peninsula’s astonishingly varied terrain, from the pastoral valleys of Matapédia to the peaks of the Chic-Chocs and Mont McGerrigle to the spectacular cliffs of Land’s End in Forillon National Park. From a short day hike to an epic 40-day expedition, you can set the adventure dial just right.

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    Réserve faunique de Matane

    The Réserve faunique de Matane in the heart of the Gaspésie mountains is known for its amazing concentration of moose—thousands and thousands of them within this 1,275 km2 (nearly 500 sq. mile) reserve. Good news for hikers: the International Appalachian Trail runs through the reserve for over 100 km (62 miles), with hikes of every difficulty level and crests and summits close to 1,000 metres (3,280 feet) high. Get ready for a nature bath with world-class views!

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    Reford Gardens

    Reford Gardens (Jardins de Métis) is the masterwork coaxed into poetic, burgeoning existence by Elsie Reford between 1926 and 1958—today a National Historic Site of Canada with a permanent exhibition to tell its story. Stroll amid the 3,000-odd varieties of plants and flowers, including the famous Himalayan blue poppies. It’s a treat for the eyes, as well as the taste buds, since some of the flowers are deployed by the chef of the onsite Villa Estevan restaurant. Don’t miss the International Garden Festival, where landscape artists and architects bring their wildest installation ideas from around the world.

  • ecoEco-Friendly Favourites

    Where to stay: Riôtel Matane, Matane Wildlife Reserve

    Where to eat: Cargo (Riôtel Matane), Restaurant de la villa Estevan (Reford Gardens), La Fabrique Microbrewery

  • Rimouski: Between the Forests and the Sea
  • Rimouski: Between the Forests and the Sea


    Pointe-au-Père Maritime Historic Site

    Rimouski’s Pointe-au-Père Maritime Historic Site is an amazing complex that sheds new light on maritime traffic on the St. Lawrence. Visit Canada’s second-tallest lighthouse and the light station at Pointe-au-Père Lighthouse National Historic Site. Then stop in at the Empress of Ireland Museum to learn about the tragic shipwreck of 1914 through a fascinating exhibition and multisensory experience. There’s also a real 90-metre submarine, the Onondaga, where you can even spend the night. Beat that!

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    Excursions to Île Saint-Barnabé

    Hop a Zodiac and set sail for Île Saint-Barnabé. This long, skinny island (6 km or 3.7 miles long by only 300 metres or 328 yards wide) lies 3 km (1.8 miles) off the coast of Rimouski and boasts about 20 km (12 miles) of hiking trails. A great side trip where you can check out island wildlife along with seabirds and seals.

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    Canyon des Portes de l'Enfer

    Just a little ways inland there’s a spectacular place for both low-key and high-flying adventures, including the province’s highest suspension footbridge, 63 metres (207 ft) above the Rimouski River. Welcome to Canyon des Portes de l'Enfer —or Hell’s Gate—Canyon! There are 20 km (12 miles) of hiking trails. Don’t forget to take the 300-step stairway down to the canyon bottom, colourfully known as the “descent into hell.”

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    Parc national du Bic

    Parc national du Bic is famous for its crazy landforms and amazing sunsets. Tucked away in a bay that looks out onto the St. Lawrence, it stacks up mountains, forests, bays, capes, coves, islands, and islets straight out of a fantasy adventure. It’s like a giant natural playground for sea kayaking, hiking, mountain biking, and wildlife observation on land and sea—including seals. The park service has plenty of stuff for you to do, and the range of great outdoorsy accommodations includes yurts, cabins, and prospector tents.

  • Saint-Jean-Port-Joli: The Arts and Crafts Village
  • Saint-Jean-Port-Joli: The Arts and Crafts Village


    Seigneurie des Aulnaies

    Seigneurie des Aulnaies is an interpretive centre about life in seignorial times. Travel back 350 years in time to the days of New France. Guided tours feature period characters to show you around the historic mill, walk you through the steps of making flour, and take you through the estate’s luxurious Victorian mansion. From the field to the oven, the milling and breadmaking here are artisanal, time-honoured traditions passed on from generation to generation since 1738. Stop by the shop to wind up your visit to this historic site.

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    Bike Around the Shops of Saint-Jean-Port-Joli

    Explore Saint-Jean-Port-Joli the eco-friendly way on a pretty creative bicycle. You can borrow one for free at the tourist information office. They come with colourful wooden baskets to carry your finds from shops like Moule à Sucre, which carries arts, crafts, and terroir goodies. If you’re into local beers, check out Ras L’Bock brewpub, makers of 13 different craft beers. Cheers!

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    Le Vivoir

    Le Vivoir transcends the art gallery–gift shop concept with a studio–exhibition unique living room. More than 50 Québec craft artisans and visual artists exhibit here. It’s a casually inspiring spot, with workshops, meetings, activities, and creative events, all taking place in the heart of Saint-Jean-Port-Joli.

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    Musée Maritime du Québec

    Be sure to stop at this maritime museum for a fascinating plunge into the history of seafaring in the province. You’ll find thousands of artifacts and archival records relating to the history of water transportation in the province, including amazing model ships. Some of the must-see exhibitions: Sea Routes, The Era of Small Craft, the Bras d’Or hydrofoil ship museum, and the permanent exhibition on Captain Joseph-Elzéar Bernier (1852–1934).

  • Lévis and Around
  • Lévis and Around


    Chutes-de-la-Chaudière Park

    For a gorgeous ramble or family picnic by a river, head to Chutes-de-la-Chaudière Park. The 5 km (3 miles) of trails are a perfect way to stretch your legs and get out into nature. As for the 35-metre-high falls, check them out from the suspended footbridge above the Chaudière River. It’s all kinds of dramatic!

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    Sento SPA

    Treat yourself to a relaxing and revivifying timeout next to the Chaudière River. Sento Spa adapts the Japanese bath tradition to Québec’s northern ethos, wrapping it all up in a fabulous Victorian country house. We also love this spa for the responsible way it manages resources. In addition to the indoor and outdoor hot and cold baths, the Finnish sauna, hammam, salt cave, and relaxation spaces guarantee you moments of blissful calm. And there are massages too.

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    Vire-Crêpes Blueberries

    You’ve come to the right place for a sweet break with the taste of this emblematic berry of the province. Settle in at a table on the porch of Vire-Crêpes Blueberries and tuck into a blueberry-themed gourmet menu of fresh local foods. Check out their homemade condiments too, like the blueberry jam and caramel spread. Stick around for a stroll through fields of blueberries and pick some for yourself when they’re in season.

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    Joly-De Lotbinière Domain

    Joly-De Lotbinière Domain is a stately historic estate in a lavish natural setting. Picture an immense garden park scattered with 19th-century buildings and crisscrossed by close to 10 km (6 miles) of trails through woods and on the shore. You’ll be wowed by the 2,600 plant varieties in 10 thematic gardens. Plus there’s an interpretive centre, outdoor café, gift shop and picnic areas. Spend the day exploring and relaxing at this gorgeous heritage estate.

    Did you know that the province of Québec has an Electric Circuit with more than 3400 charging stations for electric vehicles?

Calculate Your Trip’s Carbon Footprint

Your carbon offset will be used to plant trees in the boreal forest. Details

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Québec Le Mag’ is a French-language media outlet dedicated to the two types of people in this world: those who love Québec and those who will soon. Check out their website for great stories, articles, and recommendations.

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